Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Days 63, 64 & 65: New Orleans and Beyond!

Day 63 (Sunday 11/2/14): We woke up in the parking lot of First Baptist Church in Laplace, LA. We were able to go in and meet with the pastor Paul Naylor around 8:30 and had a great talk with him. He allowed us to set up a table with loveFAR info, t-shirts, and info about the NCCS and Samaritan's Purse in the fellowship hall of the church so that folks could stop by before or after church. We attended Sunday School then went into the Worship Service. The message was a great one. We laughed and Amened! After church lots of folks stopped by our table and we were able to share how this trip was truly a God calling.
When we were done at church we got a quick bite for lunch then drove back to the gas station where we had stopped on Saturday night. We wanted to get in a few miles since we were still trying to make up for lost time from the bus breakdown a few weeks back. We also wanted to have a bit of extra time to explore New Orleans. So around 3:30 Kenadi and CJ hopped on the bikes and started pedaling down Hwy 61. They rode until it just got too cold and it started getting dark. We finished at ANOTHER gas station right before the New Orleans airport.
We packed the bikes on the bike rack and the kids in the bus and headed down into New Orleans to the First Pentecostal Church right off of Canal St. It was an AWESOME place to park since the Canal St. Streetcar (trolley) only one block away!
CJ had been wanting to go to a ghost/history tour in New Orleans since he found out we were coming here. It was awesome to find out the Spirit Tours of New Orleans was donating one for him and 2 adults! Sooooo Katie, Kenadi, and CJ left Craig with the little boys to go to bed and hopped on the streetcar headed down to the French Quarter for a tour. The tour was excellent! Not too much ghosts, mostly gore and LOTS of history! The guide even admitted that most of the true stories were possible demonic influence and some of the "ghost" stories may be a "bunch of bull".  We enjoyed the safety of being with a group at night and still being able to see a lot of the city. We got back to the bus around 11 and fell asleep quickly!

Day 64 (Monday 11/3/14): Today was a break day from riding. We woke up late and then worked on Homeschool work most of the morning. Around lunch time Kenadi and Katie took the 3 little boys out to ride on the street car and go see the Mississippi river at the river walk. Craig and CJ stayed back at the bus to rest. Katie, Kenadi, and "the littles" walked down into the French Market and "window shopped" then went to Café de Monde for some chocolate milk and beignets! We met a sweet little family who was here from Australia on a 3 week holiday and another nice couple who SHOCKED when we told them about CJ's ride and all of the God moments along the way. 
Around 3:30 we went back to the bus and picked up CJ and Craig and walked down to an awesome restaurant called Mendina's. We got some traditional New Orleans food including Shrimp Remoulade, Red Beans & Rice, and Fried Oysters. The waitress was so sweet and the boss even gave CJ a yummy dessert to share with all of us!! After another full day, we all slept soundly!

Day 65 (Tuesday 11/4/14): This morning on one of the pastor's recommendations we decided to try out a little pancake house right on the corner near where we were parked. We normally try to not go out to eat unless at least part of the meal is being donated, but we figured since it was breakfast it should not be too expensive. Craig stayed back at the bus to get the bikes ready for a day of riding and the rest of us walked over to Betsy's Pancake House right on the corner of Canal St. When we first walked into the restaurant we weren't sure we were going to be able to get a seat. The place was PACKED. We sort of stood there for a minute and a well dressed lady with a smile walked up, CJ literally stepped forward and bumped into her, but it didn't phase her. She said, "What a nice family, are you from New Orleans?" I assumed she was the restaurant owner and told her no and CJ pulled out a flyer and told her why we were here. She quickly picked up a coffee cup and a piece of silverware and tapped the side to get everyone in the little dinner's attention. She made an announcement of what he was doing and had him take a cup and go around and take a collection. As she was talking several folks jumped up and took pictures (it's was crazy like popparotz really!). She turned to another lady and told her to get our story. TURNS OUT, this lady was NOT the owner but instead the Senator Mary Landrieu!!  We totally be accident (or was it God's timing?!) had come into the end of her Election Day breakfast! There were press members there from major newspapers and even the Associated Press! Sen. Landrieu came back and asked CJ what inspired him to do this bike ride. Of course, he told her it was a calling from God and told her about hearing the song "Do Everything" from Steven Curtis Chapman. Her staff were super friendly and told us that they actually KNOW Steven Curtis and have done several things with him to help promote adoption! It was really neat how it all worked out, without us even knowing what on earth was going on! The owner ended up donating ALL of our meal! The food was FANTASIC! Best grits and blueberry pancakes I've had in a long while! We were SO thankful we made the decision to go out to breakfast at Betsy's!

Although our breakfast set things a little late in motion, we finally made it back to the gas station where we had left off pedaling on Sunday evening. Craig and CJ rolled out of the parking lot around 11 headed down 61 toward town. We broke off on Metairie Rd and got to see some pretty awesome graveyards full of Crypts. We went through City Park and then turned onto Hwy 90 and through Gentilly past the New Orleans Theological Seminary. We finally started getting out of town around 1:00. As we went farther the land started to turn to swamp and bayou and the house started looking more "beachy". We almost felt like we were back home on the Outter Banks of North Carolina! It was a gorgeous ride through the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge and parts of The Rigolets. We got to Ridge Memorial Baptist Church our finish spot just before sunset the moon had actually already come up over the trees filled with Spanish Moss.
We are SOOOO excited to be going into Mississippi tomorrow!
We have heard there is a great group of cyclists from Gulf Coast Bicycle Club waiting to join us for the next few days! Can't wait to meet them!

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